While I managed to miss the Baltimore area’s big snow of December 2009 - my wife and I were at my archaeological excavation in Jordan (see my blog on 1/10/10) – I did manage to be here for the big February snow. I went in to teach my Friday morning classes and then officially acknowledged myself as a wimp, cancelled the afternoon chapel and headed home to beat the snow.
I assumed the rest of the staff left early, too – but it was every man and woman for themselves (!), and that left the 400 men who stay each night on the 1000 block of East Baltimore Street on their own to fend for themselves. But things might not be as they seem.
The most amazing thing about Helping Up Mission is the men who come through our 12-month Spiritual Recovery Program. When clean, they are capable, talented and – with the wide range of skills they possess – able to do almost anything we might need done. Through their daily work therapy responsibilities, our Program members actually run every aspect of our facility – food service, environmental services, laundry, maintenance, transportation and security. So, it should not be a surprise to know that our present Mission staff of 28 people includes 19 who are graduates of our Program.
Many of those staff members have responsibilities which call for them to also reside on-site. Even when off-duty, they provide stability and direction to the operation. In addition, we also have a team of over 20 graduate Interns in Training – many of whom we would like to bring onto the staff – also support our work, day and night. While we have system and procedures, with someone always on duty day and night, their general presence offers guidance and support around the clock.
So, while I am not there, I know the facility runs at least as well as it would with me right there – and maybe better! Helping Up Mission is a wonderful place where some really special men are regrouping their lives and then begin making a real difference in the lives of all those around them.
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director